Tottenham Hotspur’s hopes of returning to the top of the Premier League table were dashed in extraordinary fashion as they went down 4-1 at home to Chelsea on Monday in a frenetic London derby that they concluded with nine men.
A Nicolas Jackson hat trick made it a triumphant return to Spurs for Mauricio Pochettino as he earned the biggest result of his short Chelsea tenure, though few could have imagined how it would be achieved on a mind-boggling night in north London.
“I feel much better, after four years to come back and say hello to all the people, it is a gift for us,” Pochettino told reporters. “Very emotional but at the same time, the memories.
“The game was passionate, competitive, being honest we needed three points and it was an amazing day for us. It is Tottenham but it is not more special because of that.”
Previously undefeated Tottenham went ahead after six minutes thanks to Dejan Kulusevski’s deflected shot and minutes later had a second scored by Son Heung-Min ruled out for offside.
But in scenes reminiscent of the infamous Battle of the Bridge in 2016 when Chelsea scuppered the title hopes of Pochettino’s Tottenham side, the hosts’ night unraveled.
Cristian Romero was sent off after a VAR check for a dangerous tackle that resulted in a penalty scored by Cole Palmer and Spurs then lost two players to injury.
Destiny Udogie was shown a second yellow card 10 minutes after the break leaving the hosts trying to hang on for a point.
Chelsea eventually made their numerical advantage count as Jackson put them ahead from close range in the 75th minute — the goal standing after yet another VAR check for offside.
Tottenham had an equalizer by substitute Eric Dier ruled out for offside and Son saw an effort saved in stoppage time by Robert Sanchez before Jackson wrapped it up with two added time efforts in front of the joyful Chelsea fans.
A first league defeat for Australian Ange Postecoglou leaves Spurs in second place with 26 points from 11 games, one behind champions Manchester City. Chelsea’s fourth victory of the season moved them up to 10th with 15 points.
Tottenham have enjoyed their best start to a top-flight season since 1960 with Postecoglou the first manager to go undefeated in his first 10 Premier League games.